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The Karoo Thrush (Turdus smithi Bonaparte 1850), a southern African endemic

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The Olive Thrush (Turdus olivaceus) species complex is characterised by striking geographical phenotypic variation. Recent consensus has been to recognise three assemblages (1) the olivaceus group restricted to southern Africa, (2) the swynnertoni group of the Zimbabwean and southern Malawi highlands and (3) the abyssinicus group of the montane highlands of eastern and central Africa. We re-examined the status of taxa in the olivaceus group of southern Africa, with specific reference to the central-western taxon T. o. smithi using both morphological and molecular evidence. Sequence divergence between T. o. smithi and other members of the olivaceus group averages 3.5% for the cytochrome-b gene and 4-4.5% for the NADH sub-unit 3 gene of the mitochondrial DNA. There is also both morphological (biometric and plumage) and molecular support for the recognition of T. smithi as a separate species, the common name of which we suggest should be Karoo Thrush.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2003

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